Research has shown that actions such as mouth breathing, bedwetting, restless sleep, irritability, mood swings, speech problems, poor performance in school and even ADD/ADHD in children may be symptoms of a condition called Sleep Disordered Breathing. At Werschky, Lewis & Slatton Family Dentistry, our Grand Blanc dentists are on the front lines of addressing this condition, as part of our mission to encourage optimal oral health in young people to improve their long-term dental and general well- being.
Our efforts to combat and spread awareness about Sleep Disordered Breathing were profiled in a recent news report, where Dr. Jay Werschky talked about how this condition has changed the way he treats patients. Following a pediatric airway symposium in Chicago, Dr. Werschky decided that, in addition to focusing on elements of dental health like plaque and cavities, he should also be focusing on children’s airways and how their breathing patterns play into dental and oral development. Some reports indicate that as many as 9/10 children are affected by Sleep Disordered Breathing, putting them at risk for other health issues later in life.
“If they lay there in bed all night with their mouth open, that opening of the jaw can constrict the airway about 6 mm, and you only have 8 mm to start with when you’re a little kid,” Werschky told ABC12 news. “It makes a huge difference in the quality of their sleep.”
This is why we have begun using the HealthyStart™ questionnaire to determine whether our young patients may be at risk for Sleep Disordered Breathing. For Dr. Werschky, the benefits of the questionnaire became evident as soon as he applied it to his own family. “I’m sitting there and I’m going, ‘that’s my grandson, that’s my grandson, that’s my grandson,’” Dr. Werschky elaborated.
Dr. Werschky’s youngest daughter, Dr. Jori Lewis, who practices alongside her father here at Werschky, Lewis & Slatton Family Dentistry, echoed his concern. “For probably 3 years, we’ve noticed restless sleep, grinding his teeth in his sleep, mouth breathing, snoring, frequently waking up at night,” said Dr. Lewis, talking about her son, Emmett. “He was almost scared to go to bed because of the nightmares he was going to have.”
After applying the HealthyStart™ questionnaire to his grandson, Dr. Werschky came up with a treatment plan for Emmett that involves a habit-correcting mouthpiece, which helps develop the upper and lower jaw, and open airways to encourage breathing through the nose. Dr. Werschky and Dr. Lewis have already seen a huge change in Emmett and hope to be able to use the questionnaire to begin treating other patients in the future.
Proper nasal breathing affects both the development of a child’s airways and their dental growth. Habit-correcting mouthpieces, like the ones from the HealthyStart™ system, are often only half the cost of traditional braces, and are found to straighten crooked teeth and help correctly develop children’s jaws. These devices are usually covered under orthopedic insurance and are part of a growing commitment to treat airway health in the dental industry. At Werschky, Lewis & Slatton Family Dentistry, we can recommend the HealthyStart™ system for your family because we have already seen it help ours.
To learn more about Sleep Disordered Breathing treatment or other dental service options, call Werschky, Lewis & Slatton Family Dentistry today at (810) 671-5616 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.